Many HM families have decided to trade in their Thanksgiving traditions for new plans to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and prevent the further spread of the virus.
Sammi Strasser (10) said her family has attended a gathering of 10 to 20 people in Florida with her dad’s family or in Westchester at her grandmother’s house for as long as she can remember. Strasser usually looks forward to seeing everyone and sharing all their special recipes. Her family has a tradition where everyone makes their signature dish and shares it potluck-style. However, because of COVID-19, her family is avoiding large gatherings and will instead see them over Zoom.
Rebecca Rosenzweig (12) and her immediate family will also celebrate from home while seeing extended family over a Zoom call. She typically celebrates at her grandparents’ house with around 40 people but will give up their tradition in exchange for a celebration with fewer people present.
Leyli Granmayeh (12) usually goes to a family friend’s house, where everyone indulges in a medley of both Persian and traditional American Thanksgiving foods. “My family used to just order Persian food for Thanksgiving, but my older brother found that ridiculous,” she said. One year, he said that it was impossible to have Thanksgiving without turkey and has continued to say that every year. “Now he cooks traditional Thanksgiving foods like turkey, my mom makes or orders Persian food, and I like to bake so I always do dessert,” she said. This year, her family will celebrate the holiday with Granmayeh’s grandfather, who lives in the same building.
Coming from a mostly Caribbean family, Destiney Green’s (11) family always cooks and eats plenty. There’s always a home filled with family and a table covered in the classic Thanksgiving foods like turkey, but Green’s mom cooks classic baked macaroni and cheese, ham, and fish as well.
This year, Green will spend the day with only her immediate family and her uncle’s family, and they have taken extensive precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Green’s family has tested negative for COVID-19 and her uncle’s family will also be tested before and after Thanksgiving. Michael Shaari (11) also plans to see some extended family on Thanksgiving, but not to share a meal and for a short period of time, outside, while keeping masks on.
Other families do not celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional way because of cultural differences, but they still have their own traditions. Uddipto Nandi’s (11) family spends the day gathering with family friends at someone’s house, eating food, and catching up with each other. “It’s like a potluck because most of my parents’ close friends aren’t American,” he said.
However, Nandi’s family is not inviting anyone or going to anyone’s house for the holiday this year. “For as long as I can remember, the holiday was never an individual family celebration.”
Sareena Parikh’s (11) family also does not celebrate the holiday. Instead, her family spends the day with friends, and they all watch a movie and say what they are grateful for. This year, Parikh’s family will stay home instead of traveling or seeing other people.
Nina Gaither (12) and her family also celebrate a bit differently. Gaither’s aunt, a pastor at Mount Sinai, usually invites a patient without a family over for Thanksgiving but will be unable to continue this tradition. However, her immediate family will spend the holiday with her grandparents, and will also have a second Thanksgiving on the following Saturday with her cousins. Gaither sees her grandparents almost every weekend and will follow the same precautions of maintaining distance, limiting the number of things touched, and making sure everyone is feeling well and has not been in close contact with COVID-positive people.
Green was sad that her family’s initial plans of traveling became unrealistic because of the pandemic. “Without COVID, my family and I would have had a larger Thanksgiving with more of our friends and family,” Green said. “Our plans usually change every year, but the dishes never do.”